Kjeld Naventoft/Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters
Queen Margrethe II delivers her New Year's speech and announces her abdication at Christian IX's palace, Amalienborg Castle, in Copenhagen, Sunday, December 31, 2023.
In a surprise move, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark announced that she will step down in early 2024, after a reign of more than five decades.
Margaret (83 years old) said that she would hand over the throne to her son, Crown Prince Frederik, as she said in her traditional New Year's Eve speech broadcast on Danish television.
She cited back surgery in February 2023 as giving her thoughts about the future.
“In two weeks, I have been Queen of Denmark for 52 years,” she said.
“Such an amount will leave its mark on anyone – and me too! Time takes its toll, and the number of ‘diseases’ is increasing. One cannot do as much as one could in the past,” she added.
“In February of this year, I underwent extensive back surgery,” she said. “Everything went well thanks to the competent health staff who looked after me. The operation certainly sparked thoughts about the future – whether now is the right time to pass on the responsibility to the next generation.
“I decided it was the right time,” she said.
“On 14 January 2024 – 52 years after succeeding my beloved father – I will step down as Queen of Denmark. I will hand over the throne to my son, Crown Prince Frederik.
Queen Margrethe II assumed the throne on January 14, 1972 after the death of King Frederick IX.
After the death of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II last year, Margaret became the longest-reigning monarch in Europe.
Prince Frederik will take the throne as His Majesty King Frederik X in January, the Danish Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
His wife, Australian-born Princess Mary, will become queen, the first Australian ever to hold that position.
The couple met at a bar in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics and fans watched from afar as she joined the ranks of the Danish royal family.
Princess Mary's ascension to the throne will ensure a well-attended ceremony from her former home in Hobart, Tasmania, where she worked as a real estate sales executive before meeting the Prince.
On January 14, after a meeting in the Council of State, the Prime Minister will announce the change of throne at Christiansborg Castle.
The Queen will continue to hold the title of Her Majesty after the handover.
Members of the royal family in Denmark have a limited role under the country's constitution, as power lies in the hands of Parliament. Kings play an important ambassadorial role in addition to signing new legislation.
Throughout her life, Margaret enjoyed widespread support from the Danes, Reuters reported.
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